Perseverance pays off for Katrina Vescelius

Meet Katrina Vescelius! From uncertain beginnings to discovering her true passion, she found her way with the support of Jackson College. Now pursuing her dreams as a respiratory therapist, she’s an inspiration to all who believe in the power of perseverance.

When Katrina graduated from high school, she did what she thought was best, going on to college and completing an associate degree in general studies. She tried graphic design as a career, but it didn’t turn out to be her true calling. So, she changed to healthcare.

“I do feel like everything happens for a reason,” she said. “It was a little later in life when I decided to get into respiratory therapy. I was 26, more mature, and very excited. Jackson College was wonderful, all the advisors, with every turn and change, were there with me every step of the way.”

When she opted for respiratory therapy, the program was still young at Jackson College and not very well-known. But she knew right away it was for her; a tour of the hospital and seeing RTs in action sealed her decision. “I was like, this is very interesting. I reached out to the program director at the time and got into the program. It was wonderful. I didn’t have one professor that I didn’t get along with during all my years at Jackson College.”

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing. In a hospital, they are the go-to experts on cardiopulmonary issues and are often sought out by nurses and doctors to discuss patients’ symptoms. It’s a very rewarding career, Vescelius shares.

“I love the camaraderie we have with the physicians, nurses and staff; the teamwork is amazing. That’s what I love about healthcare,” she said. “I love when a patient comes in and I help take care of them and follow through to their getting better. When patients walk out and they didn’t know if they would walk out, knowing I had a hand in that is very, very rewarding.”

After finding help and support at each step of her educational journey at Jackson College, becoming a teacher herself was no surprise. She started as a preceptor for Jackson College students while working at Henry Ford Jackson Hospital, and later became an adjunct professor at JC. She also continues to teach residents at the hospital about all things respiratory.  “I love education and the campus, how warm and welcoming it is.”

Away from work, Katrina is married and has one son. But her passion for respiratory comes through – as a former high school track coach, several of her athletes went into healthcare or respiratory therapy after her example! “I would always talk about my life, and I guess it inspired some of them,” she notes.

Making a difference for her patients and for students, today Katrina is a traveling therapist while also continuing to work at Henry Ford. Healthcare offers that flexibility. She is grateful for the decision to become a respiratory therapist; indeed, everything does happen for a reason!

“For a two-year program, it is a lot of work, but it is definitely rewarding. Of all the students I’ve helped, I’ve yet to find a student who is not proud and happy with their career choice. “